Let’s hope for a brighter new year. The Trustee’s clear purpose in 2022 is to continue to strive for a sustainable future for Bembridge Harbour. The two main ongoing initiatives, the Judicial Reviews of the Bembridge Harbour Improvements Company Limited ( as responsible Statutory Harbour Authority (SHA)) and of the IWC ( as responsible Local Planning Authority) are likely to conclude within the year. We hope for positive outcomes for the harbour, it’s users and the communities that depend upon good and lawful decision making. As a new year update please see this video where we set out some the issues the harbour faces now and how we seek progress.
Whilst the trustees see the issues clearly, with the help of expert advice, the SHA still cloud the issues with misinformation and resist the transparency that would show the reality of it’s financial management.
As an example, you may have seen Mr Thorpe’s letter in Isle of Wight County Press ( IWCP) 15th Jan. It is unclear what had prompted this, but he claims “that there appears to be confusion about submissions to Court by BHT ”. He says the matter is “straightforward”. Indeed it is, but not in the way he has set out in his letter, which contains many inaccuracies and is misleading.
BHT has decided not to respond with corrections in the IWCP. We don’t think it would be particularly helpful to engage in a ping-pong correspondence in that arena. Also, the law is clear about the extent to which it is permissible to publish information about ongoing litigation. Instead, we have decided to share a simple correction with our members, in case the letter has been read and caused any confusion about BHT’s position on these issues.
Taking the points in the order in which they appear in the letter.
- To be clear, the claim against the IWC has not been finally determined, it is awaiting a ruling in the Court of Appeal.
- Mr Thorpe says the developer BIL’s “costs are unpaid” – this implies BHT has not paid what was due, whereas the court has ordered that any costs will only become payable after a ruling from the Court of Appeal. (Similarly on the JR against the SHA: Any costs, either way, only become payable on the conclusion of JR process).
- Regarding the harbour company’s accounts, BHT has requested that these be published consistent with Government Guidance for Ports on openness and transparency. The previous harbour owner, Mr. Blatch, indeed published full accounts, until he used the harbour’s assets to secure the borrowings of his other companies, extracted large amounts and then became more secretive prior to being placed into Administration.
- Contrary to Mr Thorpe’s assertion, BHT’s trustees, including Jeremy Gully have personally donated thousands to the project.
- Yes, we have changed the barristers on the IOW JR so that the same two barristers are now handling both JRs. We note that Mr. Thorpe has similarly changed counsel.
Our AGM was held on the 21st December. Due to caution over Covid issues the trustees had decided to hold a zoom meeting rather than the preferred face to face format. Sadly, we had to postpone a presentation by Charlie White BSc(hons) of Portsmouth University on beach growth and erosion around the harbour entrance. All agenda motions, including the election of Trustees were passed unanimously and lively participation from an engaged audience reinforced the view that BHT were on the right track, despite the inevitable costs of legal action at this level.
Thanking all our supporters from inside and the growing number outside the Trust.
Chris Attrill, Jonathan Bacon, William Bland , Jeremy Gully (chair), Phil Jordan, Norman Marshall, Sara Smith, as Trustees
For and on behalf of
Bembridge Harbour Trust